The Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) organised a highly successful awareness workshop on agro-processing incentives in East London, focusing on uplifting the Eastern Cape’s agro-processors and building an inclusive agricultural value chain. The workshop was held on 23 November 2023.
Masibonge Silevu, Director of Agro Processing for DEDEAT, highlighted the workshop’s primary objective: to disseminate funding information and opportunities for provincial agro-processors. The event was also aimed at stimulating growth, fostering sustainability among developing agro-processors, creating public-private partnerships and strengthening dialogue within the sector.
Key discussions during the session centred on financial and non-financial support provided by different stakeholders, including the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, National Youth Development Agency, Small Enterprise Development Agency, Wholesale & Retail Seta, National Agricultural Marketing Council, Transnet, South African Revenue Services, Companies and Intellectual Property Commission DEDEAT, Production Export Control Board and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Topics covered include Information on agro-processing incentives like Agri BEE fund, LRED fund, loans and grants offerings, youth agropreneur offerings, enterprise development support, capacity building, market access, and export and industry compliance support.
Nosindiso Mafunda, Deputy Director of Agro Processing for DEDEAT, addressed the challenges faced by the sector, emphasising issues like a lack of transformation and business skills, high input costs, poor infrastructure, limited value addition and fragmented farmers. These challenges stifle the development of the Agro Industry in the Eastern Cape and the full exploitation of the province’s natural endowment.
Bongeka Mbanjwa from Senqu Local Municipality applauded the initiative and urged all government institutions to follow suit, collaborate, and improve interdepartmental communication in efforts to deliver services, especially in rural areas.
The workshop drew participation from 83 delegates, which included 56 developing agro-processors in the province and representatives from key stakeholders such as business chambers, the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency, municipalities, and government agencies, including the East London Industrial Development Zone.
DEDEAT expressed its commitment to facilitating the development of the agro-processing sector to achieve economic growth and development in the province. The workshop successfully created a platform for collaboration, information sharing, and addressing the challenges hindering the full potential of the agro-industry in the Eastern Cape.